there is just no way i can share the following guest post without first introducing, sophie.
sophie, bloggieworld. bloggieworld, sophie!
i know, i know… you want to see more.
in the 3 short days we’ve had her, she’s stolen our hearts! (a love note from Berkley, spaying details included)
life with twins and a puppy isn’t so bad! especially now that they are ONE MONTH away from turning five! FIVE! (shocking, right?) but that’s another post… today i’m sharing a guest entry from my most favorite person. i think he’s pretty great. Read on to ponder The Welfare of Welfare….
The title is my lame attempt at a hook – especially in a political year. However, I am not concerned here with politics, but discipleship. This semester our volunteers read through Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help. The book discusses how our charitable giving historically cripples the people, communities, and nations it’s meant to help. Robert Lupton takes a crack at the benevolence model of churches, ministries, and short-term missions projects by asking the question, “Are the people really better off because you arrived?” Of course, bellies are full, lessons are learned, and wells are dug, but have we empowered the people for the long term? In fact, Lupton argues that the only long-term success many charities have had is to create dependence on charity. Case study after case study reinforces this – both in the book and in my personal experiences.
I realize that such sweeping statements are riddled with complexities that can’t possibly be discussed in a blog. However, an honest look at many of our initiatives will reveal that, for all the money we spend ($291 billion in 2010 according to Giving USA), little change has been made. It seems like the missing piece is what we do with our time. I once had a professor tell me that if you want to know what a person values, look at their wallet and their calendar. This rings true for churches and charities as well. It’s relatively easy to find the financial resources to accomplish a short-term task. What’s nearly impossible is for people to contribute the time and emotional energy it takes to engage in another person’s life for the long-term. Yet, this is what true ministry to the poor entails.
Poverty generally has very deep roots, far deeper than money can dig. It involves systems, cultures, values, and hearts – and money has no cure for those things. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians that he shared not only the gospel, but also his life. This is where ministry of the gospel enters in. Only the redemption of Christ uproots the pride, selfishness, and hopelessness that characterize societies with marginalized peoples. Christ understood the daunting task of addressing these issues:
Philippians 2:5–7 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
What do we learn from Christ’s example? Not that we are better or higher than those we help – that position belongs to Him alone. Having Christ’s attitude means we abandon, we empty, and we let go of that which is important to us for the sake of another person. God’s challenge to us is to empty ourselves of our rights in order to bring about the peace of Christ to this world. May we all consider the opportunities that God has already put in front of us to disadvantage ourselves and our schedules for the sake of others.